Thousands of Brits succumb to holiday scams

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family holidaysAround 7% of Brits who have travelled abroad over the past two years have been robbed, with the average value of money or possessions stolen being £414.

New research from Sainsbury's Travel Money found that conmen and thieves are going to elaborate lengths to rob holidaymakers from the UK.

Of those who have been robbed, 59% had loose cash taken while 23% had entire wallets or purses snatched.

Other stolen items included credit or debit cards (14%), mobile phones (12%), cameras (10%), clothing (10%), iPods or similar devices (7%) and watches (6%).

Holiday scams

Sainsbury's is reminding us to make sure we keep our wits about us when abroad and to look out specifically for these common cons:

  • "The bus breakdown" - Here, a driver pretends the vehicle has failed in the middle of nowhere and demands money from passengers to be collected by a second bus.
  • "The beachcomber" - This involves someone who observes their victims on the beach and then robs them when they go for a swim.
  • "The note switch" - Many have succumbed to this where they offer a large note to taxi drivers or barmen who switch it to a small one and claim they are owed more money.
  • "Taxi scam" - This is when a taxi driver forces passengers to pay a fine for non-seatbelt wearing, with the money being passed to a policeman he is in league with.

Thefts or cons are most likely to take place in hotel rooms or on public transport, with the next most popular spots for thieves being tourist attractions, busy streets and beaches.

Protect yourself

Be aware of these scams and familiarise yourself with them. By doing so, you can stay one step ahead of the game and hopefully avoid falling foul of them.

Stay vigilant and be wary of any stranger that approaches you. Pickpockets will often have an accomplice who will try and distract you by creating a disturbance.

Always wear the shoulder strap of your bag across your chest and walk with the bag away from the curb to avoid drive-by purse-snatchers.

It is handy to learn a few phrases in the local language or have them in written form so that you can signal your need for police or medical help. Making a note of emergency telephone numbers is also useful.

Most importantly, if you are confronted, don't fight back - give up your valuables.

Remember, if your wallet or purse is stolen, report the theft as soon as possible.

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